Beer bills advance in House

Two proposals to make beer sales more convenient in North Carolina won state House approval Monday night.

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Laura Leslie
RALEIGH, N.C. — Two proposals to make beer sales more convenient in North Carolina won state House approval Monday night.
House Bill 829 would allow "growlers" – large, reusable glass or ceramic jugs of beer – to be sold outside breweries in stores, restaurants, hotels, wine shops, private clubs and community theaters. 

The bill passed its second and third reading in the House with no debate and is headed for the Senate.

The other proposal, House Bill 610, would allow in-stand beer sales at professional sporting events in stadiums and venues that seat at least 3,000 people.

Under current law, in-stand beer sales are allowed only at Carolina Panthers games in Charlotte. At all other venues, patrons have to leave their seats and stand in line at a vendor's counter to buy a drink. 

Sponsor Rep. Jon Hardister, R-Guilford, said the measure "would allow fans to stay with their family and friends" during the game.

He said vendors would not be allowed to "verbally shout the sale of beer" in the stands, and venue management would  have to adequately train in-stand vendors to card customers and assess whether someone has had too much to drink.

The measure also directs the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission to come up with rules for the point in an event when venues should stop selling alcoholic drinks.

There was plenty of debate from Republicans and Democrats who oppose the idea. 

"Requiring people to walk to the beer stands is one more step to make sure they have not consumed too much alcohol," said Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake. "It gives the vendors a chance to observe them."

"I don’t think it’s unreasonable for us to ask people who wish to consume alcohol to get up from the seat and walk to the window and purchase their alcoholic beverage," said Rep. Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, a longtime opponent of easing alcohol laws.

Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, said the vast majority of people who attend sporting events drive to them. He said it doesn't make sense for a legislature that's been trying to tighten impaired driving laws to help drivers drink more.  

"I’m not a prude. I drink beer. I have a glass of wine," he said. But the bill "will inevitably, inevitably lead to more drinking and driving.”

Rep. Bert Jones, R-Rockingham, agreed with Glazier. “By making it more convenient, we are encouraging people to drink more at the games," he said. “You’re going to make sure that more people will be leaving that game with alcohol in their body.”

The House voted 63-50 to give the proposal tentative approval. Its final House vote is scheduled for Tuesday.

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